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Old 07-18-2010, 03:38 AM   #1
HowGozit
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Archos 5 Internet Tablet Review (160GB)

Folks,

I've seen a few Archos Android tablet reviews here - mostly based on early models.

Thought I'd chip in with a review of one of the hard disk models. I purchased this about 6 weeks ago. I was specifically after a device that would fit in a pocket. One that would supplant my HP iPaq 4700 (4 inch 640x480 screen). A reasonable amount of storage, and a fairly modern OS (my iPaq used Windows Mobile 2003 2nd Edition).

Needed to be able to read books on it (natch - all my devices except my work phone have to be able to show books - and the only reason the work phone doesn't is that I need it to be a charged phone). Wanted to be able to use it as a calculator, and it would be nice to watch video podcasts as a 5" screen is larger than my iPod Touch.

The Archos 5" looked a fairly good match. Reading reviews - mostly written in 2009 tended to be positive - except that the OS was buggy and rebooted a lot. I went to the site and saw a lot of updates and there were a few comments that it was more stable.

eBay showed costs of $A333 (8GB) to $A650'ish) 500GB. Hmm - there was one for $A400 including postage that was a 160GB hard disk version. Weight seemed OK and that is what I purchased.

OK - enough background - what is it like. So far - really good. The screen is indeed a nice compromise between my ipod Touch and my old UMPC (7"). Resolution (800x480) is fine at that size and weight is around 290 grams (10-odd ounces). I normally wear a Scottevest jacket or vest and it fits into the outside zipped breast pocket of all the ones that I have. (the other breast pocket always has an iPod Touch and earphones.)

The current Android on the system is 1.6 (donut). I had that as soon as it arrived and immediately updated it to the latest patch level. Which brings up access to wi-fi. I use a 802.11n router with a rather rotten (long) WPA2 key. Once I finally typed it in correctly, it linked up and has been solid ever since. The device has been remarkably stable with the latest patches. Frankly, I only reboot it when I patch it or to check that an uninstall worked OK. I saw 119 hours up, just before I booted it for the latest patch a day ago.

Once registered with Archos - which is a straightforward process involving making at account on the site, then using it from one of the setting dialogs on the device - I could run most video formats without issue. Music plays quite well. I am fairly sure that the sound quality is better than my iPod Touch (2nd Gen) using the same earphones.

But the focus of this site is books. And that is a big part of any device I own.
eReader - first on and hooked it into my Fictionwise account. It downloaded my purchased books fine. It works quite well - I left the page animations on, and they are a bit odd - not slow so much as you see a series of lines pass rapidly over the page. Somewhat configuratable. You can adjust font and colour slightly - but you are restricted to a few choices on the colour - fonts are pretty versatile though.

Aldiko - epub reader. Connects to feedbooks Smashwords and O'Reilly. Also has access to Romance books ( not really my scene). You can add new ones - and I hacked in Webscriptions - but the download process for those doesn't really work well. You can, however, cross load epub books into an import directory - then import them from there. I now have a fair raft of Baen Webscription books in place. Nice reader and very configurable.

Laputa - looks good but offers Harry Potter et al. Umm - seems to be a pipeline straight into the darknet - I'd avoid it.

Kindle - I had high hopes for this. I use it a lot on my 2 main tablet PC's, and it works well when you load the Kindle directory with .Mobi's and .PRC's (the mobi's show the cover - the PRC's don't). Any attempt to load the Kindle driectory on the Archos resulted in the application shutting down violently. You can only use purchased content. Not happy Amazon (checked around and this is universal on Android devices). But - for my 3 purchased Amazon books - its a good reader. <edit> The new version of the Kindle doesn't crash with seld-supplied content. Covers don't show up - but I have been enjoying Baen books without problems. 3rd most used reader.

Kobo - seems restricted to Borders and feedbooks.

So - I use eReader or Aldiko at present - and its a good reader with those. Movies and video podcasts play well. I have a really good calculator app and I can use it as a bedside clock when I'm in hotels.

Downsides - some minor and some not so minor. Apparently, Android 1.6 allows around 138MB for apps. So instead of being able to load anything I want (a la iPod Touch/iPhone) until I run out of (a lot of) mass storage - I have to be careful.
By default - you can't use the Google Market - you need to use Appslib - which is an Archos approved subset. www.archosfans.com have a method to hack the Market in. Which is how I have Kindle and Kobo.
Battery life is given as 22 hours for music and 7 hours for video. Ahhh - not really. Book reading - about 5-6 hours (same problem as video - but less disk access). Dunno what video would be - but similar. You can feel the buzz of the little hard drive as you start up and access the device - it has got to be draining more than the flash models.

Other items of information - there is no SD slot on the hard drive models - which means that you have to copy files over via the USB cable. Works for Win 7 - but not with XP. Sometimes means that I have to transfer Win XP desktop->Win 7 notebook->Archos. Volume buttons and power buttons are pretty close. I bought a silicone case, and the button indents are now more prominent. This is a good thing.

Screen is resistive, and even through a screen protector, works pretty well with your fingers. I sometimes use a stylus (not supplied - but I've had PDA's for years so I have extra) for precise work.

The little kickstand at the back is surprisingly useful..

If you want piccies or more comments, let us know.

Ross.

Last edited by HowGozit; 07-24-2010 at 04:31 AM. Reason: added more info on Kindle
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Old 07-18-2010, 12:12 PM   #2
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Have you tried the lastest Kindle app (version 1.0.1)? It is reported to work with your own MOBIs, see Kindle for Android is OUT!
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Old 07-28-2010, 08:46 AM   #3
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I've just purchased the 8GB version of the Archos 5.

I'm also using Aldiko for reading.
I have noticed one problem with it.
Using it in protrait mode reading epubs, occasionally it seems to miscalculate the screen width. As I move forward through the book, each page is shifted a little more to the left, until characters are missing from the each line and the first characters from the next page are beginning to appear along the right-hand edge. Easy to fix by rotating the device to landscape and then back to portrait, allowing the device to redraw the screen.
The problem is erratic. It doesn't always occur.
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Old 07-30-2010, 09:18 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Tomsk View Post
I've just purchased the 8GB version of the Archos 5.

I'm also using Aldiko for reading.
I have noticed one problem with it.
Using it in protrait mode reading epubs, occasionally it seems to miscalculate the screen width. As I move forward through the book, each page is shifted a little more to the left, until characters are missing from the each line and the first characters from the next page are beginning to appear along the right-hand edge. Easy to fix by rotating the device to landscape and then back to portrait, allowing the device to redraw the screen.
The problem is erratic. It doesn't always occur.
Yes, I noticed that with Aldiko as well. You can fix it by altering any font or any margin - even if you change it back to what it was before. Its quite annoying.

I have also installed the Nook reader - which if it wasn't so horribly tied to the B&N bookshop (which I can't use in Australia) is a really nice interface. Good font - nice page turning. However, I think it is only half baked. Log out and you can see one book in your library at a time. Scrolling is horrible under those circumstances. I also see no way to bookmark and it loses your place. Login, and you can see none of your own loaded books

Ah well - still a nice device and a good bookreader.

Ross
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Old 08-04-2010, 11:29 PM   #5
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I have my A5IT 16B using Market without any issue at all (the real Market - not applib). There is a hack available that installs from an APK that works without problems. I have Kindle, FBReader, and Aldiko. I would stick with Aldiko except for the bug both of you mentioned above. Losing the margins like this is very annoying for me. I ended up using FBReader. I use Kindle for my Kindle books. The device works really well as an ebook reader. I guess I'll try the Nook application tonight, but from what it sounds like you guys aren't too happy with it.
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Old 08-06-2010, 07:54 AM   #6
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The Aldiko problem isn't really annoying. If it happens spending 5 or 6 seconds rotating the screen is all that is needed to fix it.
I've tried fbreader, but I prefer Aldiko.
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:27 AM   #7
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Can you read PDF easily? The resolution would be fine from what you say, but how does the scale affect A4 PDFs? What reader software do you use, if you read them on this?
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Old 08-09-2010, 08:54 AM   #8
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Can you read PDF easily? The resolution would be fine from what you say, but how does the scale affect A4 PDFs? What reader software do you use, if you read them on this?
The Thinkfree office software that comes with the device is quite capable of reading PDF's and does a pretty good job. You can upgrade it with appslib and it shows PDF's reasonably well. Do bear in mind that it is a 5" screen - full page reading really isn't an option. Letter/A4 magazines do show up but text is real small. Page loading is fairly slow. You can enlarge the page by going to landscape and looking at half the page at a time. Works - but is painful.

Further on the Nook software - an update came down over the weekend, and it is a lot better. You can see your own books now - so sideloading is now possible. Only last annoyance is that it loses your place in the book when you close the software. If they fix that in the next iteration it will become my favourite reader for ePubs.

Ross

Last edited by HowGozit; 08-14-2010 at 08:12 AM. Reason: more details re PDF
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Old 08-16-2010, 07:33 AM   #9
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Thanks, I think for PDF even 7in screens have problems. The ipad is very well designed for that. I am just looking for an alternative to the obvious reader for me.
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Old 08-17-2010, 08:53 PM   #10
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Aldiko

If you're using Aldiko make sure that you are using Aldiko 1.1.6 - it's available in Appslib or here:

http://wiki.archosfans.com/index.php...tested_to_work

it's specially formatted for the Archos A5 screen - I use it on my A5 and have no issues.
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Old 08-17-2010, 09:24 PM   #11
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Folks,
...
Other items of information - there is no SD slot on the hard drive models - which means that you have to copy files over via the USB cable. Works for Win 7 - but not with XP. Sometimes means that I have to transfer Win XP desktop->Win 7 notebook->Archos.
...
Hmm, that stinks. I wonder how it would fare with a Linux connection (Ubuntu in my case).

I've been looking for something to replace my Nokia N800, and this is one option. Truth be told though, I wish that they'd just come out with a more up-to-date hardware version of the N800, really. Aside from the slower CPU speed, it's still pretty awesome.

Oh, for those wondering if PDFs would do fine on the Archos - if the resolution is 800x480, it'll be fine for normal PDFs (meaning not A4). At least that's been my experience on that resolution on a couple different devices.

R.
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Old 08-18-2010, 05:07 AM   #12
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which means that you have to copy files over via the USB cable. Works for Win 7 - but not with XP.
Mmm. Windows XP whine because of ext3. Do win7 have ext3 support built in ??

hrickh, it works no problem with linux, even better, as linux can read ext3 out of the box You can use fat32, but there, bye bye large files.
Ubuntu lucid crashes when "safely removing hardware". (though it works). But if you disconnect on the archos side, all's fine.

Last edited by EowynCarter; 08-18-2010 at 05:10 AM.
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Old 09-05-2010, 07:22 AM   #13
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Hmm, that stinks. I wonder how it would fare with a Linux connection (Ubuntu in my case).

I've been looking for something to replace my Nokia N800, and this is one option. Truth be told though, I wish that they'd just come out with a more up-to-date hardware version of the N800, really. Aside from the slower CPU speed, it's still pretty awesome.

R.
==
As others have said, Linux should be fine. It uses ext3 as the file system - as does the Archos. Only problem is that you see ALL the Android directories - not just the ones that Archos would like you to see.

In Win 7/Vista, the Archos uses a link to Windows media player 11. It just shows some of the directories. If you want, you can add an ext3 driver to windows, in which case you can see all the files and directories in the Android OS.

I avoid that, as I also have Linux partitions on my main drive... Life gets complicated.

Ross
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